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Children learn to connect what they know in the world, using language and imagination, through play. As they play, children learn:

  • New words through natural conversation as their caregiver introduces new play items or ideas.
  • Dramatic play helps develop vocabulary and activates a child’s imagination.
  • Having fun with words helps children enjoy language and eager to learn more.

Activities and Printables

Steps on how to include “Play” in library programming:

  • Create a space for children to play in your library. Include labeled toy stations, puppets, etc.
  • Offer tools to create silly poems and jokes to encourage enjoyment of words.
  • Introduce games like “I Spy” or scavenger hunts that families can do together that encourages vocabulary usage.

Additional Links

Book Recommendations

Play while reading text to help children make sense of the book. Children can use props such as puppets to talk about the characters in a storybook and retell the story or use other objects to think more deeply about informational text. If there are vocabulary words that are unfamiliar, acting them out through dramatic play helps them by using words they already know and put the new words into action.



Cronin, Doreen

Fun, engaging prompts to wriggle and move with your child while reading this aloud. It is great for gross and fine motor skill development. (Bounce and Stretch available by Cronin, too.)



Dickson, Irene

Encourage your child to build with blocks or other toys at home or at your library, both independently and with others.  Look at the pictures in the book and inside the covers for fun ideas of things to make


Peekaboo Morning

Isadora, Rachel

Join the fun by sharing words your baby can repeat and act out, much to their delight!

If You're Happy and You Know It

If You're Happy And You Know It: Jungle Edition

Warhola, James

A roaring good-time of the traditional song, be sure to give your child time and space to act out the movements and play around in a pretend jungle. 

Higher Higher

Higher, Higher

Patricelli, Leslie

Lift your child higher and higher or ask older children to stretch taller and taller while reading the book aloud.